Will There be a Government Shutdown in October 2018?

Government funding will end on September 30, 2018. Before this point in time, Congress will need to pass yet another budget bill or risk a government shutdown on the eve of crucial mid-term elections.

While lawmakers from both parties naturally prefer to work out an agreement instead of having to deal with the inevitable aftermath, the prospects of a shutdown are very real as the President insists that funding for a wall on the US-Mexican border is a must for any budget bill.

President Donald Trump has threatened to veto past spending bills due to lack of funding for a border wall. His most recent threat came in March 2018, when both houses of Congress were debating what later became the $1.3 trillion spending package that drew the ire from fiscal conservatives who warned that the United States simply cannot continue borrowing unlimited amounts of money without suffering future consequences. While the president seriously considered vetoing the bill and allowing the U.S. government to shut down, the fact that the bill contained the increased military funding that he had been asking for led to his signing the bill into law. However, he made it clear shortly after signing the bill that he would not agree to another spending bill of this nature at any point in the future.

The March 2018 spending package only provided a bit over $1.5 billion in funding for the wall, far short of the figure the Trump administration had requested for this project. Democrats are adamantly opposed to any funding for the wall and even many moderate Republicans are not particularly enthused about the idea.

Both Democrats and Republicans compromised on the last spending package; the Republicans failed to add sufficient funding for the wall while the Democrats agreed to pass a spending bill that did not provide permanent status for DACA recipients. However, a compromise of this nature seems unlikely in the near future. While DACA is still in place thanks to a number of court rulings in various states, the president’s push to build a wall has only gained steam since his failure to obtain funding in March. He is once again clearly stating that he will not sign any spending bill that does not contain all the funding needed to construct the U.S.-Mexico border wall.

The president’s clear demand is sure to put both houses of Congress in a fix. A spending bill that includes full funding for a border wall may be able to get through the House of Representatives as the Republican party has enough votes to pass such a bill. However, there is no way such a bill would ever get the minimum 60 votes needed to get through the Senate as the Republicans only have a slim 51-49 majority in this house. Furthermore, members of both houses of Congress who are running for re-election in November are sure to want to anything to avoid rocking the boat. Democrats who vote for a bill that includes funding for a wall will have a hard time facing constituents who are adamantly opposed to the project. At the same time, Republicans are leery of being blamed for a government shutdown that would affect workers in their area.

It seems probable that both parties would seek a compromise, perhaps in the form of another short-term spending bill that kicks the can down the road until after the election. However, there is a chance that even a bill of this nature would not see the light of day if the President determines that funding for a border wall simply cannot wait.

The end of September is fast approaching, and along with it an intense fight over yet another budget bill. The president, along with other proponents of building a border wall, have made it clear that needed funding simply cannot wait. At the same time, those who oppose the wall continue to hold to their resolve. As it appears now, we could be looking at yet another stalemate.

~ Liberty Planet